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The Living Traditions - The Maharis and the Gotipuas

Title:The Living Traditions - The Maharis and the Gotipuas
Enumeration:Vol. 42 Issue no. 2; December 1990, p. 41-48
Abstract:The maharis (female dancers attached to the temples) of Orissa trace their origin to the celestial dancers Rambha and Urvashi. It was common practice in Indian to consecrate handmaidens to the temples to entertain the gods. Several inscriptional records suggest that this tradition was prevalent in Orissa from ancient times. The maharis were employed in the Jagannatha temple at Puri, and other temples dedicated to Shiva and Shakti. Several rituals and festivals are connected to the maharis. The decline of the maharis led to the existence of a class of boy-dancers known as gotipuas. Generally, the gotipuas start to perform at an early age and continue till they are 18 or 20. They then give up dancing and become gurus.

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